The End of March

At the end of March, all being well, the second layer of restrictions will be stripped away and limited mixing of households outside will be allowed. When is the end of March? Yesterday, on the 29th February, it would appear. In London’s parks and and on the canals, the end of March came weeks ago. This is to say, households are openly mixing in outdoor spaces already, and have been for some time. Every time the sun comes out, to be precise.

This has drawn ire, contempt and gnashing of teeth from a fair few experts, columnists and the Twitteratti. Me? I think its a sign that things will be ok. It’s been generally accepted for a while that there is little to no transmission of the virus outdoors. And if people are having brief meet-ups with friends and relatives in the open air, then this suggests that they are not doing so indoors.

A further layer will be peeled back in mid April, when shops, gyms and outdoor attractions open. But its’s mid May that we’re all really looking forward to. Pubs, restaurants, cinemas and international travel will all return, providing things go according to plan. But the burning question in speakeasies up and down the land, is how vaccine passports might fit into this plan.

There is the laughable suggestion that vaccine passports might be needed to go to pubs, restaurants, festivals and stadiums in the UK. Can you imagine? We have proven largely incapable of properly enforcing face covering legislation. And as with face coverings, exemptions will need to be made for those who cannot comply. If such a law were enacted, then I suspect trypanophobia may well have some merit for Oxford dictionary’s Word of the Year.

I don’t object to vaccine passports in principle. My reservations are restricted mostly as to the question of where and when we are required to use them. It does seem highly likely, for example, that vaccine passports will be required for some international travel. It also seems reasonable that certain vocations might have valid reasons for requiring employees to be vaccinated.

Where countries have high vaccination rates and low incidences of infection, vaccine passports seem rather redundant. But I suppose that new variants might require boosters, and some populations might become slack in getting those boosters. It just takes one wacky antivax professor to publish a report ‘proving’ the latest shot will give you webbed feet and make you speak with an echo.

We may need an updated version of the EU’s current traffic light system to govern transit. Travel between green countries to be fully open. Vaccine passports required for travel in either direction for yellow rated countries with waning vaccination rates/increased infection. Travel bans for countries that go red. I will put £5 on France being the first Western European country to slip down the ladder. The Greeks place greater importance of an income, housing and food on the table over Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.

The question moves on to what form the passport will take. We’ll need an easy to implement short term solution, such as the conversion of the NHS Track and Trace app. Longer term, there seems a very obvious solution. I have a Health app on my iPhone. I’m sure Android devices have something nearly identical. It contains plenty of data that I have put into it and it has the ability to connect to health authorities*, access health records and make that data available to the user.

We already have the technology and there are plenty of ways this currently benefits us, and plenty of ways that it can provide even greater benefit going forward. For the remainder of this pandemic, which will draw to a close eventually. And the next pandemic. I think there is little to fear from this technology. The data is our anyway, so the more of it we have access to, the better.

The real issue, is who else will have rights to access that data. When? And why?

* so far, two health authorities have made themselves available. Others will follow, I hope.

5 thoughts on “The End of March

  1. A simple laminated card will do, a basic punch if reups are required if/when the little bastard mutates. I have a smart phone but it is smarter than I am, let’s keep it simple Gary.

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    1. There will be a significant number of people who don’t have a smart phone or can’t/won’t use it. There’ll be an alternative hard copy document, I’m sure.

      I suspect that the lanes for immigration control at the airport may at some point in the future be divided not according to nationality, but technological proficiency…!

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  2. We have an app for tracing the virus but it hasn’t been approved for use in British Columbia. But if someone from another province has the app on their phone too and if they have had the virus or been exposed the app will inform me if I have been exposed or been in close proximity to them! But it has been anonymized so you won’t know who it was either.

    As regards a card, perhaps it will be like a credit sized one with photo and a digital code on it. My drivers license and health card are all in one, so when I pick up my meds they just scan the card and hand over the chemicals..

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    1. Our app for Test and Trace has been a bit of a waste of time. Not only has uptake of the app been too low, but it doesn’t seem to have been used correctly at the Trace end of the program anyway.

      I spent eight hours with my phone next to the phone of a colleague who had caught and subsequently died from Covid. He’d accidentally left it in the office. Yet I never did get a call to isolate.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I suppose the unanswered question is did he actually admit he contracted it on his app? I would say there are most probably the doubters who having picked it up at a nostril or other won’t actually.. pass it on in case they will get implicated in the spread.

    The pointing fingers dripping with ketchup and half eaten chips could haunt you at the next office party! He’s the one that didn’t wash ‘is ‘ands!

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